Thursday, April 24, 2003

Trusts ensure future of disabled



By Rob Phillips
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Dick Neidhard (left) has set up a trust for when he dies so his mentally disabled son, Tom, will continue with the same quality of life.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
FAIRFIELD - Every summer, Dick Neidhard sends his 51-year-old, mentally disabled son, Tom, to camp. For Tom, who works two part-time jobs, it's a vacation he enjoys.

Tom was diagnosed with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder when he was in kindergarten. He receives about $500 a month in governmental aid and an additional $250 a month from his two jobs.

But Dick Neidhard knows this covers only bare necessities, such as rent and food. "Basically everything else that is not for room and board, we have to cover," he said.

And when he is gone, he wants to make sure his son is able to enjoy the same lifestyle. So Dick Neidhard set up a trust that the government could not touch.

The government "is very stringent on the amount of money you can have in the bank or you can earn on a monthly basis," said Kathy Morris, a planning coordinator for Butler County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. "If it exceeds a certain amount, they will start to reduce how much is received."

To help inform residents about such programs, many local agencies have combined efforts to hold sessions teaching about the benefits of setting up trusts for those with mental retardation.

"Real Life Experiences with the Trust Puzzle" will bring in lawyers and a banker to provide information. It will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Butler County Mental Health Board in Fairfield. Attendees can choose from sessions offered both days at 9-11:30 a.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. The event will be sponsored by nine agencies from Hamilton, Clermont, Warren and Butler counties.

Dick Neidhard will be one of three storytellers at the event.

"By bringing in real examples of people that have set up these type of trusts, we thought this would be a way for them to ask questions," Morris said.

Janet Metzelaar, of Loveland, will speak about a trust that was set up for her brother, Eric Potter, who has schizophrenia. Potter, 58, of Peebles, inherited money from his father after he died.

"We basically turned over the entire inheritance to the community fund, and the bank administers and invests the money so that it can grow," she said.

Metzelaar said she wanted her brother to continue receiving government aid so he could use the inheritance on things he enjoyed.

Metzelaar said the money was used to take Potter and a friend to their 40th high school reunion.




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